COVID-19: Effect on Lifestyle Related Diseases

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Dr Ishwar V. Basavaraddi

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the usual routines of lives, hauling over our lifestyle habits and subjecting us to a greater risk of catching as well as worsening existing lifestyle-related diseases. Lifestyle diseases are some bodily and psychological ailments that are primarily based on the day to day habits of people. These habits are activities that push us towards a sedentary routine which can possibly land us with a number of health issues. This in turn can lead to certain chronic non-communicable diseases that can have near life-threatening consequences.

Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga, amidst it’s November initiative ‘Yoga Nidra’ for promotion of immunity, organised the first webinar of the month on the topic “COVID-19: Effect on Lifestyle Related Diseases.” The webinar was hosted by Dr. Vandana Singh with Dr. I V Basavaraddi, Director, MDNIY; Taiyab Alam, Communication and Documentation Officer and other members of the institute as panellists.

The esteemed guest speaker of the evening, Dr. Piyush Ranjan, an Additional Professor, Department of Medicine, AIIMS, New Delhi, gave an astounding lecture on the webinar topic given his years of expertise on the subject. He has been working under various academic capacities at the AIIMS, New Delhi since the last decade. Dr. Ranjan is actively involved in increasing public awareness in the field of Lifestyle-related diseases, Metabolic Syndrome, Obesity, and Arthritis. Moreover, he has delivered public lectures for armed forces and common people several times in the past in addition to his numerous participation in health-related talk shows at National Television.

The session began with an informative introductory remark delivered by Dr. I V Bsavaraddi, who started by introducing our guest speaker, detailing his very accomplishments professionally and socially. He mentions various steps taken by the Ministry of Ayush and MDNIY under Ayush for Immunity campaign, wherein the complete wellbeing of people has been the prime objective.

Dr Basavaraddi talked about the objectives of the session as identified by Dr Ranjan in his presentation, “COVID-19 has led to many behavioural changes in the eating, activity, and sleeping habits of people. These behavioural changes have the potential to act as independent risk factors for metabolic complications such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders. Besides, the presence of metabolic disorders put an individual at a higher risk of getting infected by COVID-19. 

He also emphasised that the identification of lifestyle management strategies for prevention of COVID-19 and maintenance of optimal health is the need of the hour. Furthermore, Yoga is a promising lifestyle approach which should be promoted as a one-stop solution for the prevention of COVID-19 by building immunity, management of lifestyle-related disorders, and psychological distress across different population groups.

Dr Piyush Ranjan took Director MDNIY’s points further by reiterating that COVID-19 has resulted in collateral damages in addition to the deadly infection, which directly affects our lives while causing lifestyle diseases. He began by detailing the background and present conditions of coronavirus and the pandemic, nationally and internationally. 

He specifically mentions the global trends of impacts and restrictions induced by the pandemic on day-today lifestyle people, using an international study from China, Italian surveys, and google analytics, as shown in the picture below;

Image Source: PPT presented by Dr. Piyush Ranjan.

Dr Ranjan talks about certain general trends induced by COVID-19 which have brought changes in our lifestyle-related behaviours, i.e, Eating, Activity, and Sleeping. With the limited accessibility to fresh produce during the coronavirus lockdown, even the home-made cooking habits in addition to amplified junk/fast food consumption deteriorated further with increased intake of sweet beverages and meal irregularities of our dispersed schedules. 

Image Source: PPT presented by Dr. Piyush Ranjan.

The Outdoor Physical Activity and leisure pursuits like gardening, shopping, walking, etc., all came to a halt with physical and social distancing norms, encroaching people to more screen times than ever before. All of this in amalgamation has directly affected our sleep cycles and it’s quality because of stress caused by changed routines, finances and work-related situations.

He also informed the viewers about nationwide – long and short-form surveys conducted by AIIMS to study the increase in lifestyle diseases during the pandemic. These surveys and studies, as informed by Dr. Ranjan, have been published at international platforms. 

Image Source: PPT presented by Dr. Piyush Ranjan.

As per one of the studies mentioned by Dr Ranjan, One-third of the surveyees had gained weight as a result of affected eating, activity, and sleeping behaviours.

In some instances where eating behaviours had marginally improved, physical activities, on the other hand, significantly declined. Changes in lifestyle-related behaviours have the potential to lead to obesity and allied metabolic disorders such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disorder wherein individuals with obesity have the highest odds for getting COVID-19 infection as per the study conducted by AIIMS institution through telephonic interview. Here they found that Mean BMI and prevalence of obesity was higher in COVID-19 positive individuals.

Dr Ranjan presented an interesting chart (look below) which displays the bi-directional relation between obesity and how it increases the chances of catching COVID-19 infection. The chart shows how COVID-19 influenced “stay at home” work routines, lessening physical activities and overhauling daily lifestyle – causing obesity, which in turn leads to chronic inflammation, respiratory problems, etc, putting us at greater risk of catching the infection.

Image Source: PPT presented by Dr. Piyush Ranjan.


Talking about Lifestyle Management to prevent this threat, Dr. Ranjan suggests maintaining a negative calorie balance wherein intake of calories should be less that than the expenditure of calories, moreover, as the
Yogic Concept of Ahara suggests, the diet should be a near-perfect balance of good food at proper intervals or meal times.

The basic components of Behavioural Lifestyle Management are; Correction of Dietary habits, adequate physical activity, and Sleep, as well as Reduction of Stress and Anxiety – through Yogic practices like Pranayama, Dhyana, and Yogasanas

Dr. Ranjan emphasises on Yoga as an adjunct therapy in the management of COVID-19 for different population groups of the society and their physical-social-psychological nurturing at the time of the pandemic. He calls Yoga a promising practice with psycho-physiological benefits, but also greatly stressed on the fact that more research needs to be done for devising standard protocols for management of COVID-19 and it’s related symptoms across the different population and patient categories.

In an elaborative Interactive session, Dr. Basavaraddi and Dr. Ranjan deliberated upon various aspects of Yoga and its effects on the healthy development of COVID-19 warriors as well as patients. Director MDNIY firstly sought Dr. Ranjan’s view on the hypothesis that if Pranayama and physical exercise aid individuals’ better when performed after the long day of work, in the evening. To this, the latter said an objective data will be prepared soon which can support this hypothesis, as in his personal opinion he believes that Pranayama before sleep indeed would be better for a good quality sleep and recovery of the body after a stressful day of work.

Secondly, Dr. Basavaraddi asked about the available data and insights on the post-COVID-19 recovery of the patients, especially ones with diabetic complication and respiratory problems. Dr. Ranjan says that post-COVID-19 sickly people went through certain aftermath symptoms both physical – in terms of breathing problems, fatigue, etc. and psycho-social behaviours developed because of isolation. All such patients have been aided and advised to practice Yoga on a regular basis which can directly help improve both the above-mentioned problems

Thirdly, Director MDNIY sought Dr. Ranjan’s opinion on the ultimate benefits of Yoga in the prevention of COVID-19 in addition to the integrated medicine system of Ayush – this hand in hand with modern medicine. Dr. Ranjan upon this talks about the universally known benefits of Yoga known to help prevent lifestyle diseases, as well as the already established integrative medicine department in AIIMS, several other institutions which speak highly of the acceptance and flourishing research in this domain. He stresses the challenge of delivering a standardized protocol to common people with proven studies and research.

Dr. Basavaraddi and Dr. Ranjan, in conclusion, agreed upon the strengthening of prevailing information on the integrative medicine systems of AYUSH for the long run alongside known advantages and disadvantages of modern as well as other alternative forms of medicine systems.

{WATCH} – COVID-19: Effect on Lifestyle Related Diseases

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